“[And] all the other commandments are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)
“…love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)
It’s all summed up in one word: love.
Even Paul, the oft portrayed angry zealot more accustomed to social purity than hippie love, clarified it emphatically by saying that no matter what laws are written and spoken; they are all summed up in the command to love our neighbors as ourselves. Period.
More importantly, Jesus unequivocally spoke to exactly who are ‘neighbors’ are: anyone we see or know of in need, whether those who are like us or those who are not. Remember, in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats (in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25), Jesus said the only difference between the sheep and the goats was what they did and did not do lovingly to the poor.
Neither Jesus nor St. Paul mentioned love our neighbors if they are of the correct politics, heterosexual, Christian, white picket fence, etc. In truth, it would be more divine and godly to love our neighbors if they were an African-American lesbian couple or a devout Muslim family from Gaza than if they looked and thought the way I did.
You could say that love is the Executive Summary to all the words ever written about God.
I do not believe in my heart of hearts that God cares much about my theology or my politics (unless they are used as justifications and weapons of hate); I do get the sense that God only cares about love: do I love God? Do I love all people equally? Do I make my choices in life from a place of Love? I think God is ‘concerned’ about things of that nature.
So, I truly do think that it is all summed up in the one word love. Some quick etymology: the word “sum/summed” comes from the feminine Latin word meaning “highest.” That is poignant, the sum of life is not love reduced to the lowest common denominator but rather to its Highest.
It should go something like this: Love is our ‘doctrine’ and our calling (vocation) is found in becoming the Beloveds of God and treating all others and all of creation as if they are the Beloveds of God. The Scriptures are clear and concise: God is love and to love in God’s name is to imitate God.
The actor Jeremy Irons said it best in the movie “The Mission” when he was challenging Robert De Niro and he said, “you gave your life to God and God is love!”
For you see, love is the highest summation of how God responds to us. And love is ideally the way we are to respond back to God and to each other.
And make no mistake about it, love is an action verb, much like God (yes, God is a Verb as well as a Noun). This relentlessly loving God is a God Who proactively seeks us out, seeks to express divine love to us in word and deed. The Creator created this world out of love and because of love, there is no other reason for you see God has no need of anything created or otherwise. The only rational (sic) reason that God creates is out of love – love for the creative act and love for the created and for all of creation itself. And all of this creative love is dynamic not static. That is the very nature of God’s love: dynamic in nature rather than static and rote.
Far too often, if I am honest, my friendship with God is sometimes more of an historical fact than a dynamic, living relationship based on love. If I am even more honest, the way I love is that way as well. When it comes to loving my neighbor, I will often point to what I have done, or how I used to live rather than how I love God or people today, right now.
But I am learning to live more from a place of divine love because what I have learned (especially in the Rooms of A.A.) is that love is a baptism of fire and water. One that burns away the dross and washes and cleanses the brokenness, the resentments, the little angers and self-righteousness I so often cling to because they are safe, giving me a false sense of control rather than letting go and letting God’s love tenderize them into pure, divine love.
I am learning, albeit slower than I’d prefer, that if the love of God abides in my heart (which it does because God dwells there) then love will become my response to the world around me. Love becomes the question. Love becomes the answer. Love becomes the reason.
So, I practice turning it all over to the love of God. When in doubt, turn it over to God’s love; when in anger, turn it over to love; when in fear, turn it over to love; when in pain, turn it over to divine love; when in darkness or joy, and turn it over to God’s love. I try and let divine love become both the movement and the motion.
So…in a word, LOVE.